Is Your Thinking Holding You Back in School?

Is Your Thinking Holding You Back in School?

Did you know that your thoughts are so powerful they can make or break your success as a student? Every time you have a thought—and it’s estimated you have up to 60,000 thoughts a day—your brain releases chemicals that impact the way you feel.

Whenever you have a sad thought, a mad thought, or a hopeless thought, such as “I’m going to do terrible on this test,” your brain releases chemicals that make you feel bad. Conversely, every time you have a happy thought, a loving thought, or a hopeful thought, your brain releases chemicals that make you feel good immediately.

Thinking too many negative thoughts can make you feel bad—about yourself, about your ability to do your schoolwork, about your teachers, about everything—and can get in the way of achieving your goals. In some cases, they can contribute to or be a sign of anxiety and depression.

Take Marcus, for example. He came to see me because he was having a lot of trouble with his schoolwork. In his first session with me, he told me:

“I’m an idiot.”

“My teachers hate me.”

“I can never be as good as other kids.”

I call these thoughts ANTs, or automatic negative thoughts, and they can make you feel sad, insecure, and incapable. But you don’t have to believe every stupid thought in your head. You can gain control of your thinking, calm your mind, and focus your attention so you can achieve the success in school you want.

Learn the 7 Types of ANT Species

There are 7 types of ANT species that could be holding you back in school:

All-or-Nothing ANTs

These ANTs think in absolutes—things are all good or all bad—and use words like all, always, never, none, nothing, no one, everyone, and every time.

Just the Bad ANTs

This ANT can’t see anything good! It sees only the bad side of any situation.

Guilt-Beating ANTs

These ANTs think in words like should, must, ought to, or have to that are actually demotivating.

Labeling ANTs

Attaching negative labels to yourself or someone else strengthens negative pathways in the brain and keeps you stuck in your old ways.

Fortune-Teller ANTs

Don’t listen to this lying ANT! Fortune-teller ANTs predict the worst possible outcome with little or no evidence.

Mind Reader ANTs

This ANT thinks it can see inside someone else’s mind. It thinks it knows how others think and feel without even being told.

Blaming ANTs

Blaming others for your problems makes you a victim and prevents you from admitting your mistakes or learning from them.

In my book Change Your Brain, Change Your Grades, you’ll discover how to identify each type of ANT species crawling in your head, and you’ll learn the simple steps to change your thinking to kill those ANTs. You’ll also find several step-by-step examples that show you how to do it, so you can take control of your thinking and start using your mind to help you perform better in school.

Change Your Brain, Change Your Grades is written by psychiatrist, neuroscientist, and brain health expert Dr. Daniel Amen and relies on the latest neuroscience and leading-edge brain imaging to show students of all ages how to strengthen the ultimate study buddy—their brain—to be more successful in school. Order your copy here.

If your head is filled with ANTs and it is keeping you (or your child) from reaching your potential, there is help. At Amen Clinics, we have helped thousands of students learn to kill the ANTs so they can be more successful at school and in life. Speak to a specialist today at 888-288-9834 or schedule a visit online.



  1. What about the opposite? When someone never believes anything can go wrong. There are no consequences of a negative nature. No plan B. No retirement plans needed; no savings; all risk; all jokes. No hot stoves in life. Never learning from mistakes. No preparation needed for anything. All is good.
    No critical thinking. Just jump in.
    Would love to see article on this.

    Comment by Kathryn Rodenbach — August 23, 2019 @ 2:24 AM

  2. I agree with the request above. We all know people who can’t understand what anxiety is and it’s seems like all they see is tinted by their pink glasses. People pleasers, or those who only want to see the positive in everything tend to not face the reality of their lives and avoid conflicts. Oftentimes they also deny there is an issue when it’s brought up. This results in having stones unturned and it contributes to resentment build up in relationships. I would love to read about that, even though I know it not promoting your new book Thanks Dr Amen and team!!

    Comment by Marie-Josee LeBlanc — August 23, 2019 @ 7:50 AM

  3. I agree with this request too!!!
    My husband has been epileptic since age 8, currently the seizures are under control with medicine. However, the 30 years of regular epileptic seizure (small ones on daily basis, big ones on monthly basis) gives him a super optimistic view of everything, that he loves life sooooo much and everything in this world is so beautiful because he could die at any moment, thus he must fully embrace life.
    Nothing wrong about loving life, but it exactly reflects in real life as an extreme risk taker:”No plan B. No retirement plans needed; no savings; all risk; all jokes. Never learning from mistakes. No preparation needed for anything. All is good.”
    One of the other reason (I assume) that caused his super risking-taking tendency (nothing can go wrong), and his super optimistic view (no preparation needed because mind power wins all) is: every time he has seizure, his short term memory gets erased– not only during the seizure but also things happened recently. He said he has to “reconstruct” what is real, what is not. Especially when he was young, his classmates stared at him after observing a sudden seizure, he had to get up and pretend nothing happened—since then, he learned to create his own world with unbeatable personal perspectives. This later turns into a pure subjective view on everything. By the way, the short memory loss is so prevalent in his daily life, that he sometimes watch the same movie 3 times in one month because he doesn’t remember watching it.
    When he went to business world, people identify him as a visionary. And yes, he is a marketing genius because he can visualize and believe things that haven’t happen yet. With extreme mind power (from him) and extreme execution (from me), magic does happen. This is a upper side. However, as business partner, his over-optimistic view and extreme risk taking drive me nuts because it usually leads to poor judgement on people (especially bad people who just ruin your life) and barely any real execution on money (“yeah, why need money? nobody needs money now since the North America is no more starving compare to ancient people.”–he would say this).
    I may sound like venting, but it is not. I have lived with him 13+ years, get used to it. It is still fascinating what happened to their brain that caused these “outliner features”. And I wonder, do they need help? (they themselves think they are already perfect) Is that they can’t learn from mistakes, or, they simply learn differently?

    Comment by Gloria King — August 23, 2019 @ 9:25 AM

  4. I am the one with an ANTs nest in my brain. All the different ANTs wrecking havoc in my head. My husband is like the posts above. Anything negative happened so long ago it is not important which can be nice but not if you don’t learn from your mistakes. And save a few dollars in a savings account but pay a fortune in credit card bills. And fall for another scam to save some poor person on the internet whose uncle will kill her if she doesn’t come up with a few thousand dollars. Nice he wanted to help a stranger? Then she needed more and now on another scam where for a few thousand he could get rich. But then they needed more and more. I don’t know which is worse, too many ANTs or lack of any . . .

    Comment by Ruth — August 24, 2019 @ 7:34 AM

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